We are Tied to the Frontier

They take the worst jobs, the dirtiest, hardest, most demeaning jobs that pay the best, and work, work, work until they have enough to buy space on one of the big ships. Even with a fortune in metals and calloused, clever, canny fingers the best they can afford is way down in the belly of the whale, no windows, no table, nothing but a bed that spreads from wall to wall and a harsh, buzzing light that turns on and off automatically.

There’s a node nearby, though, so they can at least spend time on the ansible.

They don’t land when they make port, of course; that sort of infrastructure won’t exist for generations yet. It’s not cost-effective to send them down the well and lift the longboat back up again, so they’re dropped down in heavily padded cigar tubes equipped with parachutes and their luggage sent crashing down afterwards. It’s a one way trip, but at least there’s the ansible waiting for them at the bottom.

They crack open their tubes and struggle out into the brave air of a fresh world, beat wings new grown and fragile in the heady light of a stranger sun. They are home and newly born; already they stand straighter and taller, the long years of toil ahead as easy and familiar as breathing.